With Olivier Pi, the stage is always half-way between a church and a brothel. Six years after Alban Berg’s Lulu that sent indignant shivers down Calvinist spines, the Director of Avignon Festival and former director of Odéon Théâtre de l’Europe, returns to the Geneva Opera with new tale of sexual woes.
Jules Massenet’s late 19th century opera is based on the novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut published in 1731 that was considered so shocking that it was toned down by its own author, l’Abbe Prévost.
The love between Manon and the young and pure Chevalier des Grieux cannot satisfy Manon’s craving for luxury and when she turns to prostitution, he turns to crime. The damning of their souls is set against puritanical hypocrisy and never fails to draw compassionate tears from the audience.
Patricia Petitbon, whose electrifying performance as Lulu was matched by the ethereal incandescence of her voice returns to Geneva as Manon. As slight as an elf, she radiates a sexual power that melts the men in her presence.
Pi favours grand, baroque effects and does not shy away from transgressions of all kinds. He is out to shake our sensitivities, but he also believes in God. His shows have a sublime uneasiness, as if to remind us that we are never completely free of our inhibitions.
15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 September